Malaysia-Philippines coproduced film to compete at Venice this year
On the world stage
The production is a collaborative effort between Malaysian filmmaker Bradley Liew and Filipino film producer Bianca Balbuena, with financing sourced from both countries. A debut feature film for Liew, Singing in Graveyards tells the tale of Pepe, a 68 year old impersonator of a Filipino rock legend who one day gets the chance to open for the rock legend's concert, but he must do something neither of them has ever done before—write a love song. The fictional film is inspired by and stars Pepe Smith, a real life Filipino rock icon.
In an interview with Business Mirrror, Liew, who is now based in Manila, recalled his first meetings with Pepe Smith: "I was 23 at the time and had just arrived in Manila, meeting and getting to know Pepe Smith with no prior knowledge of his culture significance. So I knew him first as Pepe the elderly musician with an incredible heart and sense of humour, rather than Pepe Smith the rock icon. He then told me he had never written a love song in his life because he felt that he needed to relate to the things he writes, and as long as his songs made people happy, there was no need to write a love song. I then wondered, could it be this 66-year-old rock star who has lived such a colourful life never truly fallen in love?"
He and Bianca then started working on the idea, that eventually led to Singing in Graveyards. The film will go against six other films from across the globe - akher Wahed Fina (Tunisia-Qatar-UAE-Lebanon), Drum (France-Iran), Jours de France (France), Los nadie (Columbia), Prank (Canada) and Le ultime cose (Italy-Switzerland-France) - in the 31st Venice International Film Critics' Week, an independent section of the Venice International Film Festival dedicated to first-time directors' full-length films.
They are now in Venice for the esteemed film festival. Singing in Graveyards will hold its world premiere screening on 8 September at Sala Perla 1, Casinò Palace, and we wish them all the best in their venture over there!